It was while I was living in Los Angeles that I knew I wanted to switch things up and explore the world.
I ended up moving to Bali in May 2018, where I experienced a different way of living. It was refreshing to realise there were countries outside the United States that I could call home. And from there, my journey across the world began, full of hope, a little bit of trepidation and a huge desire to embrace everything new.
I’d wanted to check out New Zealand and specifically Auckland since 2017, when I’d heard how great it was from the friend of a friend who was working for Auckland Council. I did my research and it wasn’t hard to see why she raved about the city so much. I’ve always had a connection to planning for people in urban areas and as a professional in the planning, construction and transport industries, I was excited about the developments happening in Auckland – both in transport and urbanisation.
After almost three months in Bali, I took the leap and moved to the Land of the Long White Cloud, which is the translation of New Zealand’s Māori name, Aotearoa. I had just two suitcases, no job offers and no contacts.
I quickly found a place to stay for a few months with a typically friendly Kiwi via Facebook. This gave me time to find my feet, get acclimatised and make a few new friends while I slowly learned about life in Auckland. As a US resident, I was able to stay in New Zealand for 90-days under the Visa Waiver programme. My goal was to find a job and get my work visa during this time which I did.
Thankfully, I easily found employment and started work just after the New Zealand Christmas holidays. This meant I got to relax like a Kiwi, enjoying long summer days while the folks back home were celebrating the festive season in the cold.
I now work as a Senior Transportation Planner for Harrison Grierson, one of the leading engineering and design consultancies in New Zealand. The people are wonderful, and I enjoy being a contributor to Auckland's ever-changing transportation landscape.
My heart belongs to central Auckland
When people hear that I’m from New York, they wonder why I would want to come to Auckland. I always reply, why wouldn’t I? When you’ve lived in NY most of your life, the hustle and bustle doesn’t hold the same allure. I now enjoy a quality of life I never had back in the United States.
I love the ease and convenience of living in central Auckland and adore my city apartment and its fantastic views. I live life most comfortably with my feet hitting the pavement. I like to say that ‘the sidewalk is my runway’. I don’t have a car as I can easily walk, bus, train, ferry or even scoot where I want to be (yes, you can hire electric scooters which can be found on pavements throughout the city). If I can get a good deal on a rental car for a weekend, then I’ll take a drive to feel the sand between my toes at one of the region’s many incredible beaches, but overall, I enjoy the freedom of living car-free.
I like having my personal space when I walk down the street and as a woman, I feel comfortable walking around the centre of Auckland no matter what time it is. There are always people around and lots of street lighting.
My office is in Parnell, just a short walk or bus ride from my apartment and I enjoy a good work-life balance. That’s something New Zealanders do really well and it’s one of the things I most appreciate about living here. As a result, I always have lots of time to spend with my family and friends.
New Zealand has 10 public holidays a year plus plenty of annual leave – at least four weeks paid annual leave is required by law each year for full time employees. This is a big bonus compared to the US, where there is no legal requirement to provide paid vacation time and if employers do, they normally offer two weeks.
Shared space, events and culture
My favourite thing to do in my spare time is to stroll down to Wynyard Quarter – a waterfront neighbourhood – sit on the big wooden beach loungers, soak up the sun and listen to my music – yes, Spotify has even reached New Zealand’s shores! There are many great shared spaces to enjoy, alone or with friends, and I think Auckland excels at this aspect of city living.
The city is always buzzing with various events, both free and ticketed. From the latest foodie pop-ups, film screenings on giant silos at Silo Cinema and Aotea Square’s winter Ice Rink to Auckland Arts Festival, NZ International Comedy Festival and Auckland Writers Festival – Aucklanders are really spoilt for choice, not to mention the museums, galleries and many theatres dotted around the city!
Another big positive about Auckland for me is the people. They actually speak to you! For someone who has lived in NY and LA, the Kiwi friendliness is very refreshing. And, as an African American woman, I’ve also found New Zealand society to be open, caring and culturally accepting.
After completing my 30 months of work, I’ll definitely apply for New Zealand residency and I’ll be proud to call myself a Kiwi.
Tiffany Robinson moved to Auckland from Yonkers, New York, USA (via LA and Bali) in September 2018. She lives in central Auckland and works as a Senior Transportation Planner for engineering and design consultancy Harrison Grierson.
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